Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) is heading back to Washington, D.C. in the midst of a six-week recess to address an alleged lack of diversity in the committee's senior leadership.
According to Politico, Black and Hispanic lawmakers have aired complaints that Bustos’s management of the campaign arm of the Democratic Party lacks diversity and has not done enough to reach out to minority communities.
“The DCCC is now in complete chaos,” Texas Democrat Representatives Filemon Vela and Vincente Gonzalez told Politico, ““The single most immediate action that Cheri Bustos can take to restore confidence in the organization and to promote diversity is to appoint a qualified person of color, of which there are many, as executive director at once. We find the silence of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on this issue to be deafening.”
Bustos responded by agreeing to participate in diversity and inclusion training for all DCCC employees.
“Chairwoman Bustos is coming back because she understands how important it is for her to hear from staff directly and to reassure them that we have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion at every level,” DCCC spokesman Jared Smith said. “She plans to approve changes to the structure before she leaves town and wants to get staff input as we work to build a stronger DCCC and make sure our team, from senior leadership on down, reflects the full range of diversity that gives the Democratic Party its strength," Smith added. "She looks forward to reaching out to her colleagues to get their input, address their concerns and update them on the progress we are making.”
Bustos’ return to D.C. follows an all-staff meeting on Friday that was described as “very emotional all around.” Politico reported that “Multiple employees of the campaign arm got visibly upset and at least one demanded to hear directly from Bustos about the ongoing issues. She was not present.”
Bustos’s term as DCCC chairwoman has been plagued with turmoil. Since she assumed the position earlier this year, Bustos has come under fire for her discouragement of primary challenges to Democrat incumbents and for hosting a fundraiser with pro-life Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)
An all-staff phone call with Bustos left participants disappointed, Politico reported:
“Multiple Democratic sources said they left Saturday's call feeling like little is actually being done to address the diversity issues that have been simmering for months, or that Bustos understands the totality of the problem.”